General Pathway Information

What is the Underserved Pathway?

The Underserved Pathway is a curricular and experiential program that supports medical students interested in caring for underserved populations, both urban and rural. Students in the pathway complete:

  • an online curriculum on topics pertinent to underserved populations;
  • preclinical courses on topics relevant to underserved populations;
  • a Scholarly Project (many students complete a III, Independent Investigative Inquiry) that focuses on issues affecting underserved populations;
  • a RUOP, GHIP, or preclinical preceptorship with a physician who works with underserved populations;
  • clinical rotations in sites that care for underserved populations;
  • 24 community service hours and/or community engagement in an underserved community;
  • They also work with a mentor for the duration of their time in the Underserved Pathway.

If you’d like to learn more about the pathway requirements, click here.

How does the Underserved Pathway track student requirements?

All students are required to independently track their own progress in the Underserved Pathway. They do so by logging into our UP Assignment tracker. Once you log on with your UWNetID this will take you to your own tracker page. Students should update their trackers 1-2 times per year, or as they complete UP requirements.


How much of my time will the pathway take?

The time the pathway takes will vary from student to student. The designed of pathway is such that many of the requirements overlap with medical school requirements. We estimate that the additional components of the mentorship, web modules, and community service will take about 2-5 hours per quarter to complete.


Do I have to be interested in Family Medicine to participate in the pathway?

No. While the pathway is administered by the Department of Family Medicine, it is available to all medical students and does not advocate for any particular specialty.


What recognition will I receive when I complete the pathway?

With timely completion of all pathway requirements you will receive a Certificate of Completion, acknowledgment of pathway participation in the Hooding Ceremony program, and if you are on track to complete the UP you will receive acknowledgment of projected UP completion in your Medical Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE or Dean’s Letter) that comes out in fall of your last year in medical school.


What do I need to do to have my Underserved Pathway participation mentioned in my MSPE letter?

For students to receive acknowledgement in their academic Medical Student Performance Evaluation Letter or MSPE, third year students* must meet the following requirements by July 31 of the year they will be applying to residency and therefore needing an MSPE:

    • 2 Credits of non-clinical selectives completed
    • 12 credits of clinical rotations-completed or scheduled for the year
    • Scholarly project, III, or underserved equivalent completed and approved
    • 12 of the required 24 hours of service learning or community engagement in an underserved community
    • At least 4 of the required 8 UP modules completed
    • Mentorship: Document quarterly contact with one or more physicians

*For expanded students or those working on their PhD, please contact the UP coordinator.


What do I need to do to have the Hooding Ceremony recognize my Underserved Pathway completion?

For students to receive acknowledgement at graduation, graduating Underserved Pathway students must meet the following requirements by April 1 of the year graduating:

  • Minimum of 8 online curriculum modules and associated activities
    • Who Are the Underserved is required for everyone
  • One meeting per quarter with Underserved Pathway/TRUST mentor (phone, email, in-person)
  • 2 credits of non-clinical selectives focusing on underserved populations or issues
  • RUOP, GHIP, and/or preclinical preceptorship in underserved setting
  • Scholarly project, III, or underserved equivalent project completed focused on issue affecting underserved population(s). A III completed on RUOP or GHIP automatically qualify.
  • 12 credits clinical courses in underserved setting or serving vulnerable population(s)
  • 24 hours of service learning or community engagement in an underserved community completed

If a student does not complete all requirements by April 1, their certificate will not be noted in the graduation program.  Students have until May 1 to complete all of the UP requirements in order to earn a certificate.


All requirements, curriculum modules, the UP Tracker, and other information can be accessed at:


Can I participate in multiple pathways?

Yes. Our pathway works closely with the Global Health, Indian Health, and Hispanic Health Pathways.  All of the courses and experiences from the Global Health Pathway, Indian Health Pathway, and Hispanic Health Pathway may be applied towards Underserved Pathway requirements.


What if I decide to drop out of the pathway?

If you are considering leaving the pathway, we strongly recommend that you speak with a pathway advisor and your mentor.  We understand that the competing demands of medical school can be stressful, and if at all possible, we’d like to provide you with the support you need during this time. If you determine that pursuing a pathway certificate is not going to work for you, you are free to “audit” the pathway by accessing the online modules and remaining on our mailing list so you’ll receive notices of relevant events.

What if I decide that the pathway is not for me?

As you progress through your medical school career, you will question your career goals and objectives frequently.  If you find that your career goal is shifting away from a career serving an underserved population, we strongly encourage you to use our pathway advisors and your mentor to reflect on your career goals and objectives.


Applying to the Underserved Pathway

I am interested in completing the pathway. How do I sign up?

You can sign up electronically for the pathway by filling out our student application. The information you provide on this application will help the pathway advisors craft an educational experience that best fits your needs.


I filled out my Underserved Pathway application, now what?

Applications are regularly read by the Program Coordinator.  If you have not heard from us two weeks after filling out your application, email the Underserved Pathway Program Coordinator at to be updated on the status of your application.

Is there a competitive application process to join the Underserved Pathway or is everyone accepted?

There is no competition for entry.  See the FAQs below for limitations based on year of desired entry.

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What are the policies that limit when I can sign up?

For a complete list of all Underserved Pathway Policies including important deadlines please visit: Underserved Pathway Policies


UP Pathway enrollment policy prior to E12:

All first and second year preclinical students are accepted into the Underserved Pathway. Other preclinical students, such as expanded students and those enrolled in the MSTP program, who did not enroll during first and second year, can meet with UP faculty and staff to discuss enrolling during the preclinical years. These will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and will include mapping out the pathway requirements and how they will be met.

If you are clinical student and you would like to apply, please review the requirements. Prepare a list of those you have met and set up an appointment with the Underserved Pathway Coordinator at (206) 616-7889. As a bare minimum, you will need to have completed all the preclinical selectives and an appropriate preceptorship/RUOP/GHIP, to have a longitudinal relationship with a mentor who has experience with underserved communities or populations, and to have completed 8 hours of community service. It is best if your iii is also completed and on a topic relevant to the pathway.

UP Pathway Enrollment policy for E12 and on:

Enrollment into the Underserved Pathway must take place prior to the initiation of clinical rotations (or the patient care phase for E15 onwards). Enrollment in the preclinical years (or Foundations Phase for E15 onwards) allows for completion of the preclinical/foundations phase requirements and for there to be the longitudinal connection to the pathway.


Why should I consider starting the pathway in my first year?

As a first year student, you will have the benefit of a longer relationship with a mentor, more time to complete the nonclinical selective coursework and preceptorship requirements, and the ability to plan for a III project that focuses on an underserved issue.


Can second year students join the pathway?

Yes, you can join the pathway mid-year. We recommend that if you are a second year student, you join as early as possible to ensure that the nonclinical selective, preceptorship, and research requirements can be met.


Can third and fourth year students join the pathway?

Applications from interested third and fourth year students are reviewed to ensure the student can complete all pathway requirements. The mentorship, research, community service, and nonclinical selective components are essential to the pathway and may be difficult for some third and fourth year students to complete.


What if I have expanded?

If you are an expanded second year or third year student, we invite you to apply to join the pathway. Expanded second and third year students may be able to use experiences from their first year to fulfill pathway requirements after discussing them with a pathway advisor.


Can I join the pathway mid-year?

If you are an expanded second year or third year student, we invite you to apply to join the pathway. Expanded second and third year students may be able to use experiences from their first year to fulfill pathway requirements after discussing them with a pathway advisor.

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How will I be matched with a mentor? What if I have expanded?

The UP mentorship is mandatory, and students take the lead in identifying a suitable mentor. Mentors may be physicians or other health professionals (one or more) with whom students have an existing mentoring relationship or with whom they wish to develop a relationship. Our goal is to have all students matched with an identified mentor by the end of fall quarter of second year.  This gives first year students a chance to explore possibilities through preceptorships, the colleges, RUOP, service learning experiences, etc. Contact the the Underserved Pathway Program Coordinator at If you identify a mentor who is not currently mentoring through the Underserved Pathway so we can give them information about the pathway, outline the mentoring expectations, and enroll them formally as mentors.

For more detailed information, please see our Mentorship page for students.

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Do you have a list of mentors?

Yes, we have a list of mentors and we continue to recruit new mentors.  If, after you explore options on your own, you do not have a mentor by Fall of your second year, the UP program coordinator and faculty are here to help you explore further options, including current UP mentors who are able to mentor an additional student.


How are mentors recruited?

Mentors are recruited in a variety of ways, including referrals from students, from existing mentors, preceptors, and faculty, as well as professional associations.

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Can I change my mentor?

Ideally, you and your mentor will be matched for the duration of your time in the pathway.  However, we understand that as you progress through your medical education, your career goals and interests will change and you may desire a mentor who matches your new goals and interests.  Before you change to a new mentor, please contact us to discuss and contact your current mentor, and notify him/her of your need to change mentors.  He or she may also have ideas of colleagues who may be able to answer your questions and meet your needs. If you need support or assistance during this process, Rachel and the UP faculty are available to help. Once you have notified your mentor, please contact the Underserved Pathway Program Coordinator at so they can match your previous mentor with another student.


What if my mentor and I do not get along?

A mentoring relationship is like any other, and there may come a point where you find that you and your mentor may encounter personal circumstances that may result in a less engaging or satisfying experience.  We strongly encourage you to talk with one of the pathway advisors about your experiences with your mentor if you begin to feel that your match is no longer suitable.  We will encourage open dialogue between you and your mentor and work with both of you to find appropriate solutions.  If we cannot help you and your mentor reach common ground, we can help you and your mentor find closure to your relationship and help you transition to a new mentor.


I have tried to reach my mentor and he/she has not responded, what do I do?

If you are having any difficulty reaching your mentor, please contact our pathway advisors.  Our mentors have a variety of clinical and community responsibilities, which means that they may not immediately respond to emails or phone calls.  If you think that your mentor has had adequate time to return your email or phone call and you have not heard from him or her, please contact the Underserved Pathway Program Coordinator at


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Research and III Projects

I am a second year student.  My III project had an underserved focus.  How do I ensure I get credit for this experience?

Indicate on your pathway application (or the Pathway Tracker if you’re already in the pathway) that you have completed your III and provide a brief overview of your project including the population and topic. Once the pathway advisors review and approve this experience, you will update your pathway tracker reflecting completion of this requirement. III projects completed within the context of RUOP or GHIP have automatic approval for pathway credit. For all other III or for those who have had their III requirement waived, please talk to a pathway advisor to discuss whether your topic qualifies, and what other options you have.


I am second year student.  My III project did not have an underserved focus.  What do I need to do to fulfill this pathway requirement?

Indicate on your pathway application that you have completed your III and specify that it did not have an underserved focus. Pathway advisors will work with you in creating an alternative project to this requirement.

My III requirement was waived.  What do I need to do to fulfill the III requirement for the Pathway?

Indicate on your pathway application that your III requirement has been waived and provide details on the research or community project used to waive the requirement. If your III was waived for a project that focused on an underserved population or issue, your III requirement for the pathway may also be waived. Graduate level capstone projects related to an underserved population will be considered. If your III was waived for a research project that did not focus on an underserved community, a pathway advisor will work with you to develop an alternative project to satisfy this requirement. It is helpful to get started early on this, as your clinical years leave little time for completion of a research project. We recommend you complete this prior to starting clinical rotations. To have the pathway included in your MSPE, the III or alternative project will have to be complete.

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Other UP Requirements

I would like to take a course that’s not listed on the approved course list. How do I get the course I’m interested in approved for the pathway?

If the class you want to take is not on our pre-approved courses list, speak with a pathway advisor about the course(s) you are interested in taking. The pathway advisors will consider your selection(s) for approval.


I am interested in a topic in underserved care that is not part of the core web curriculum.  Can this topic be added?

If you do not see a topic in underserved medicine as part of our web based curriculum, contact the Underserved Pathway Program Coordinator at and let them know your topic of interest. We welcome suggestions for curriculum topics The pathway faculty will consider your topic for inclusion in the future.


Do I need a letter or other verification of my participation in service learning/community service/community engagement in an underserved community?

No, we do not require verification of participation in service learning/community service/community engagement.  We rely on the honor system and fully expect that any hours that you list on your pathway tracker spent in community service were hours you actually completed in an underserved community. Your service learning/community service/community engagement work may be completed over your time in the pathway, or in chunks, as you are able. The total requirement is approximately 2 hours per quarter. However, all 24 hours can be completed prior to the start of clinical rotations or the patient care phase.

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What types of service learning/community service/community engagement would be eligible to meet this pathway requirement?

Any direct service that is health-related (clinical, outreach, advocacy, leadership and education) and in an underserved community or working with underserved populations is eligible for this pathway requirement.

The service learning/community service/community engagement requirement is meant to get students into underserved communities, engaged with them, seeing first hand the health challenges faced by vulnerable populations, learning about partnership within these communities and the agencies that serve them, and providing needed service. It also includes the reflection about what you have learned.


How do I fill out the pathway tracker with the courses and experiences that I completed prior to joining the Pathway?

When you apply to the Underserved Pathway, you will have space to enter courses you’ve already completed. Check the list of approved selectives and courses on the website to make sure they will count towards pathway requirements.  If you have questions, please contact the Underserved Pathway Program Coordinator at


I am having difficulty completing one or more pathway requirements, what do I do?

Your first step should be to talk with your mentor or a pathway advisor.  Together, you can determine if there are other ways for you to meet the requirements you are having difficulty with or if you might be eligible to have certain requirements waived based on your previous coursework or outside experiences.

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Do you have other questions? Send us an email at or call us at 206-616-7889.